On this day in history, Nov. 6, 1917, women finally received the right to vote in state elections in New York. This was not the first state to grant women the right to vote before the 19th amendment was ratified in 1920, but it was a major win for women in New York, and all over the country.
Women gained the right to vote in state elections in NY after 50 years of marching and rallying against the public and government officials. The effort that women suffrage groups underwent was perhaps the most intent in Westchester. The change in NY voting rights became a pivotal moment in the suffrage movement and soon thousands of women marched out to vote. The first state to grant women full voting rights before the amendment was the Territory of Wyoming in 1869. Later on as Wyoming became a state, it was finally legal and official in 1890 that women could vote. Following Wyoming was Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Washington, and then other western states. New York was the first east coast state to grant state voting rights to women. Virginia did not grant women the right to vote until after the 19th amendment was passed.
So why is this important? Firstly, State elections are currently happening. Virginia just held an election for state senator. Secondly, as a young and involved generation, it is our duty to vote and shape the future of the country. In order to do this, we must respect the history of voting. All peoples in the US have not always had the right to vote and voice their opinions; women’s suffrage is just one example of this.
Originally, the right to vote in America was granted to only white male property owners who were Protestant. It wasn’t until 1792 when New Hampshire became the first state to eliminate the property requirements and almost all white men could legally vote. The last state to lift this requirement was NC in 1856. People (men) of other race or “conditions of servitude” were not even granted the right to vote until 13 years later 1869 when the 15th amendment was passed. Even after the 15th amendment, arguments about voting still remained. Acts continue to pass later into history granting voting to all citizens (including Native Americans in 1948) and finalizing the voting age in 1971.
Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”
This is of utmost importance as our country slowly moves towards another presidential election in 2016. The history behind voting should be enough to motivate you to go vote. Don’t waste a right which was so strongly fought for by all citizens of the US and which was finally gained. If you do not vote, you do not have the right to complain about governmental decisions. If you do not vote, you do not get your say in how our country is run, and the only way the democracy works is if citizens, no matter how young or old, actively participate.